You can enhance the walls and ceilings of your rooms in many ways: for example, with decorative wood or plaster mouldings, fire surrounds, wall panelling, replacement doors, new door and window furniture, and curtain (drapery) tracks and poles. Pictures and mirrors provide the finishing touches.
Perhaps the simplest type of ornamental plasterwork is panel moulding. This is a decorative strip used to outline areas on walls or a ceilings that will be treated in a different way to the rest of the room, especially as a way of highlighting pictures, mirrors or alcoves.
Panel mouldings are made in a wide range of profiles to suit every taste, from plain fluted and reeded effects to more elaborate versions such as egg-and-dart, flower-and-husk, Roman Vine and Greek Key. Corners can he mitred, or formed with matching corner blocks or special re-entrant curves.
Cornices (Crown Moulding)
Crown moulding plaster features were originally used externally in classical architecture at the edges of roofs, but were soon also used inside on the perimeter of ceilings. As with panel mouldings, a huge range of profiles is available, from authentic Greek and Roman (brim through 18th and 19th century styles, and featuring such classic motifs as acanthus, denril, swag-and-drop and egg-and-dart. Plain concave moulding, known as cooing, are also available, made either as a paper-faced moulding with a plaster core, or machined from wood.
Most wooden moulding is machined either from softwood or from a cheap hardwood, in a wide range of cross-sections. The larger moulding, architraves (door and window trims), skirtings (baseboards), and the like are cut from softwood, while moulding with smaller and more intricate profiles are made from hardwood. Moulding can be given a colored finish, or can be stained and varnished.
Skirtings are fitted to plastered walls at ground level to protect the plaster surface from damage by careless feet or furniture, and also allow floor-cleaning implements to be used right up to the floor edge without wetting or marking the walls. Until recently, the fashion was for low, plain skirtings, but in many homes there is now a switch back to more ornate types, often stained and varnished.
Dado (Chair) and Picture Rails
These are horizontal mouldings fixed to wall surfaces, the former about 90 cm/3 ft from the floor and the latter a short way below ceiling level. The dado rail was designed to protect the plaster from damage by chair backs, and also provided a break in the walls’ coloor scheme. Traditionally, the area below the rail was panelled or finished in a relief wall covering while it was papered or painted. The picture rail allowed pictures to be hung and moved about, and also provided a visual break in rooms with high ceilings.
Doors and Windows
Replacing room doors is one way of giving a room a dramatic face lift, especially if the existing doors are out of keeping with the look of the room. New doors deserve new fittings, and again there is a wide range of handles, knobs and latches from which to choose, including various metallic finishes, wood, plastic and even glass and ceramics. The same applies to windows. Changing these is a bigger job than replacing a door, but simply fitting new stays and catches can give an old window frame a new lease on life.
Curtain (Drapery) Tracks and Poles
One last fixture that deserves some attention is the hardware paraphernalia that supports the curtains (drapes). Curtain tracks and poles may be wall or ceiling mounted, and can be made of metal, wood or plastic in a wide range of styles and finishes. The simplest types of tracks are unobtrusive. More complex versions include cords or motor drives to move the curtains. Ornamental poles can help to set the overall decorative tone for a room.